My guest post today has been written by South African pianist Niel du Preez (pictured below), the artistic director of a new piano course, ArtePiano Masterclasses, which will be held in splendid Sankt Goar, Germany. Here, Niel descibes how and why he established this exciting new venture.
A couple of years ago I reunited with a friend who is an opera singer, and who studied with me in Karlsruhe, Germany. He then invited me to give a solo recital at his newly established opera academy in the medieval town of Sankt Goar in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. As soon I arrived I was stunned by the calm, serene and beautiful surroundings, and I immediately thought this to be the perfect place to host a piano masterclass series, and, without discussing my idea with my friend, he came up with exactly the same thought. Living in a big city like London where there is a 24 hour buzz, constant noise and disturbance, feeling hurried and not always having enough head space to indulge in focused, productive piano practice, Sankt Goar has proved to be the polar opposite of the environment I am living in. And this is how and where the concept of ArtePiano was born. It came at the right time, because I was ready for a new, different and exciting venture.
The idea was to create a teaching and performance platform for students of any age, level and background where they can focus on learning the art of piano playing, improving and furthering their skills, gaining self-confidence as well as performance experience before an upcoming exam, audition, concert or festival. During the weekend, students will receive three piano lessons, two performance opportunities, loads of practice time, a video/photo package, and they will be able to listen to a high calibre piano performance given by the faculty members and guest artists who have made their mark in the artistic world.
Apart from all the musical activities, participants can also enjoy the touristic attractions Sankt Goar has to offer. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most beautiful stretches of the Rhine and therefore also ideal for hiking. Its location on the west bank of the river and a stone throw away from the famous Loreley rock makes it one of the most beloved tourist destinations in Germany. Above the town stand the ruins of the famous Castle Rheinfels and across the river lies the sister town of Sankt Goarshausen with its own castles, Katz and Maus (“Cat” and “Mouse”). The English painter William Turner used to spend much time in Sankt Goar, capturing spectacular views of the Rhine in his paintings. The town is conveniently located within easy reach of Frankfurt International Airport (60 to 90 minutes by train, or 70 minutes by car). Other important cities that can easily be reached include Cologne, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Koblenz, Mannheim and Heidelberg.
The venue for our masterclasses is the SGIMFA (Sankt Goar International Music Festival and Academy). There are two salons where teaching will take place and concerts will be held in the main chamber music room on the ground floor (see photo gallery, above). The academy has five other upright pianos in various rooms, so students will have sufficient time to practise. Accommodation is offered on the top two floors and there is also a kitchen for self catering purposes.
My fellow teacher on the faculty will be Mr. Mark Nixon, a well-established piano pedagogue and acclaimed soloist who is the Head of Keyboard at King’s College School, Wimbledon. The final member of the team is the talented videographer and photographer Daniele Ciferri, who is covering the promotion side of ArtePiano Masterclasses.
The dates for this year’s masterclasses are:
13 – 15 March 2020
12 – 14 June 2020
13 – 15 November 2020
How to Book
I warmly welcome everybody to join us this year in Sankt Goar.
The closing date for the March weekend is 28 FEBRUARY 2020.
We are looking forward to seeing you there!
Niel du Preez
Artistic Director & Founder, ArtePiano Masterclasses
Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.
For more information, please visit the publications page, here.